A product page on www.groupon.co.uk, promoting an offer on toilet rolls, seen on 5 October 2017 featured text that stated, “60x Rolls of Cusheen Quilted Lavender Toilet Paper Difference 64% £33.31 [strikethrough price] £11.99 …”.
The complainant challenged whether the savings claim was misleading and could be substantiated.
MyCityDeal Ltd t/a Groupon stated that the reference price was the price at which their supplier normally sold the product to consumers. Furthermore, they provided a link to their supplier’s website and noted that their supplier had now increased their normal selling price for the product.
Groupon provided a link to the full product page promoting the offer, which included text in the small print that stated that the price was checked on their named supplier’s website in June 2017. They also provided some of their supplier’s invoices, which they believed supported the savings claim made in the ad.
The ASA considered that the claim “60x Rolls of Cusheen Quilted Lavender Toilet Paper Difference 64% £33.31 [strikethrough price] £11.99” would be interpreted by consumers to mean that the product was generally sold at the quoted higher price across the market.
However, we understood that the savings claim was specifically based on a comparison against the normal selling price Groupon’s supplier charged consumers for the same product. We noted the product page (in its entirety) featured text towards the bottom of the page. Under the header “The Fine Print” it stated, “Original value: Based on online price as sold by [name of supplier], checked on 06.06.2017”. However, we considered such information explaining the basis of the price comparison should have been more prominently presented in the ad and closer to the actual savings claim.
We referred to the supplier’s invoices Groupon had provided and noted that the product had been sold at the quoted higher price of £33.31 by the supplier. However, the invoices only covered a period of three non-consecutive days (18 May, 23 May and 28 May 2017), which we considered was not sufficient to demonstrate that the supplier’s normal selling price for the product was £33.31.
Because of that, we considered that Groupon had not provided adequate evidence to support the savings claim and therefore concluded that it had not been substantiated and was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Qualifications must be presented clearly.
CAP has published a Help Note on Claims that Require Qualification. (Qualification) and 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices)
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Groupon to ensure that the basis of their price comparisons were clearly presented in their future advertising and to ensure that the prices used as the basis of savings claims reflected the normal selling price for the product.